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Light Fixture Wiring and the Spare Red Wire

   
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How to Connect the Red Wire for a Ceiling Light Fixture: The Red Wire in the Ceiling Fan or Light Fixture Wiring.


The Red Wire in the Ceiling Fan or Light Fixture Wiring

Electrical Question: I am trying to replace a ceiling light fixture.

  • The switch it is connected to is a dimmer switch with an on/off button as well as a dimmer slider.
  • The wiring in the ceiling contains a black, red and white wire as well as a ground.
  • The fixture contains only black and white.
  • What would the red wire be for and how do I connect it?

Thanks.

This electrical wiring question came from: Marlene, a Homeowner from Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
Additional Comments: Great resource for help.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Marlene.

How to Connect the Red Wire for a Ceiling Light Fixture

  • The Red Wire
    The red wire is most likely a spare wire that was intended to be used when wiring for a ceiling fan.
  • The Wall Switch
    Typically when a ceiling fan is installed the red wire is most commonly used for the light and the black is commonly for the fan motor.
  • The Red Wire as a Spare Wire
    When a ceiling fan is not installed, this spare red wire is insulated with electrical tape or capped off with a wire nut.

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« Replacing a Light Fixture with a Ceiling Fan Basic House Wiring Diagrams »


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Comments

6 Responses to “Light Fixture Wiring and the Spare Red Wire”
  1. Loretta Vaughn says:

    I have a tester but am not familiar with usage of it but thanks anyway
    I have been reading up on how to use it and may eventually try it on some smaller things until i become more familiar with it
    i have two black wires and two white wires coming in and two black wires and two white wires going out. These are connected to give power to the rest of the room.
    I have another cable with one black one red and one white. I am assuming these are for the switch. should i ignore the other thru cables and just wire into the tri-cable? or do i need to tie into them with white or black? or both?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      The Red Wire of a 3-wire cable that is used for lighting usually indicates that there is one or more switches within the circuit, but this is best determined by using a voltage tester and visually inspecting the wiring connections of the circuit for verification.
      Dave

  2. Loretta Vaughn says:

    I have a problem involving a red wire.
    I have tried all kinds of combinations and still cannot get my light to function with wall switch.
    I have omitted the red wire and connected all blacks together and all whites together..light on constantly with no way to turn off.
    I have tried black to black power source and red to light fixture with whites connected.
    I have tried red to black power source and black to fixture with whites together.
    I have tried black to fixtures black and red to fixtures white with other white from ceiling to other white in ceiling box.
    I think i have tried every combination there is.
    Results are either blown fuses, no light or constant light. please help.

    Here is my wiring map:
    From box..white and black coming in white and black going out another tri-cable of white red and black.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Loretta,
      To solve a connection problem like this:
      The wiring at the Switch Box must be known.
      The wiring at the Ceiling Box must be known.
      A tester is needed to Identify Each Wire.
      Once this information is discovered I then apply switching logic to understand the connections.
      The Switch Wiring Diagrams here on the website will be helpful as well.
      Dave

  3. bernadine says:

    I turned my bathroom fixture from hanging down to being turned up…in the process i disconnected a black wire…now I don’t know where to put this wire. The fixture has three white wires that are connected…three black wires that are connected and a separate black cooper wire (solid) that I think was twisted off when I moved the fixture. Where does the black wire go…so that my light can turn back on?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Bernadine, an electrician would determine this by using a voltage tester. Normally all the like colored wires are spliced together, but this may not be the case with your light fixture. It will depend on where the power source is at and how the wiring is connected to accomplish the switching.

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